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Santa Cruz United Methodist church goes green



United Methodist Bishop Beverly Shamana joins children for the 2004 groundbreaking for the new United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz, as the Rev. Michael Love (far right) looks on. A UMNS photo courtesy of the California-Nevada Annual Conference.














By Jeneane Jones*
April 10, 2007 | SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (UMNS)

Like a seed planted in fertile ground, plans for a new United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz soon will come up green.

The church will be Santa Cruz County's first to go "green" from the ground up and among the first United Methodist churches in the United States designed for environmental friendliness.

The building will include solar panels, windows designed to draw in more light and other eco-friendly features. Construction is expected to begin July 1.



The new United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz sanctuary is designed for minimal reliance on electricity. Artist's rendering courtesy of William Bagnall Architects. 

The 189-member congregation is the result of a 2003 merger of three congregations - Live Oak, Grace and Santa Cruz.

The Rev. Michael Love said church leaders decided at the start they needed to develop more than just a building on 17th Avenue.

"We wanted the church to be an expression of our core United Methodist values - values rooted in the Wesley tradition and in our Christian faith," Love said. "We take seriously that 'the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof' and so building a facility that reflected stewardship of the earth was important," he said.

Being an eco-friendly church is more than just a nice idea, according to the pastor.

"In general it's a little bit more expensive to do some of the things we are doing," said Love of the $8 million project.

"People think that incorporating environmentally responsible design into their buildings is icing on the cake; it's the last thing they do. In fact, eco-friendly architecture is a huge movement within the construction industry, and many architects are knowledgeable about how to help you and your church cut heating costs."

While the church won't be totally off the grid in terms of electricity, Santa Cruz-based William Bagnall Architects says the new two-story, 20,000-square-foot structure will have many energy-saving features.

“We take seriously that 'the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof' and so building a facility that reflected stewardship of the earth was important.”
–The Rev. Michael Love

"From flooring and wall coverings to the heating and cooling systems, we are looking at a number of ways the new church facility will minimize reliance on electricity," said project architect William Bagnall.

The multi-functional church will feature a flat roof and solar panel tiles made to look like concrete. The sanctuary will be oriented to take advantage of natural sunlight through windows and skylights. Even the parking lot will reflect the green concept.

"We are looking at using paving materials that allow water to soak back into the ground, recharging ground water aquifers, instead of running into storm drains," said Bagnall.

The new building also will be educational. "Small plaques will be featured throughout the buildings to explain what renewable resources were used, and why," he said.

While designs, permits and plans were being completed, Love says the Santa Cruz congregation has been growing its ministries.

"It's been a long road, but the delays in work approvals have been a blessing," he said.

"We've added a middle school ministry; our children's ministry is now at its limit; we have launched a Spanish language Bible studies and worship services as well. These ministries are really important to us because geographically the building site is five miles away from the place where we are currently meeting. We realized we needed a way to remain focused on our neighborhood - letting them know we hadn't left them. We want to be able to cut the ribbon on the new building and have the people excited about coming to join us."

*Jones is director of communications for The United Methodist Church's California-Nevada Annual Conference.

News media contact: Marta Aldrich, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz

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